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SSI Schaefer develop new storage facility for Bodleian Library

Overview
Bodleian Library’s new £26M storage facility in Swindon, Wiltshire, recently unveiled to the national media, will ultimately store over eight million volumes of books and maps for Oxford University’s world-renowned library. Built to the British Standard for Storage of the Archival Document – BS 5454:2000, the 127,900 sq ft warehouse has 31 aisles of shelving providing over 153 miles of storage capacity. Over the next year, nearly six million books and more than 1.2 million maps will be transferred from Oxford to the storage facility.

SSI Schaefer worked with other members of the design team led by Scott Brownrigg architects, logistics consultants Total Logistics and building contractor MACE. Once the internal racking structure layout, specified by SSI Schaefer, was agreed, the building was then designed around it.

Background
The Bodleian Library in Oxford, used by students and scholars around the globe, first opened to scholars in 1602 following financial rescue by Sir Thomas Bodley around 1598. It incorporates an earlier library erected by the University in the fifteenth century to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester.

Following an agreement in 1610 with the Stationers’ Company of London under which a copy of every book published in England and registered at Stationers’ Hall would be deposited in the new library the library’s collections began to expand and the additional books immediately imposed an extra strain on space. The first extension to the medieval building was planned and financed in 1610-12, known as Arts End. The Bodleian’s comprehensive collection of books, papers and maps has continued to expand with increasing momentum over the last 150 years.

This was the start of Bodleian’s continued journey to effectively manage and maintain its on-going storage demands – with currently 40 libraries associated with Bodleian receiving over 1,000 books in total each day, here is the response to today’s Bodleian space requirements to see through the next 20 years.

Challenge
The Bodleian Library needed to develop a new storage strategy to move and safely store over eight million items including the special storage of hand-drawn maps dating back to the 14th and 15th Century. This became more urgent with the decision to renovate and redevelop the New Bodleian, which had previously been the major book storage building, as a Special Collections Research Library with rooms for public exhibitions. The £78M project, currently underway, will be completed by 2015 when it will reopen as the Weston Library.

The scale of the challenge being to store material away in a location easily accessible by road networks in order to retrieve material as and when needed within 24 hours following publication requests from Scholars and students all over the world to be viewed within Bodleian’s famous Reading Rooms.

Response
With preferred storage solutions provider SSI Schaefer on board together with Total Logistics, appointed to consult on the project, a new site in Swindon was found, 28 miles away, and work began to come up with a brand new purpose built storage facility.

Solution
In just under 25 weeks SSI Schaefer designed, supplied and installed a bespoke High Rise, High Density Narrow Aisle Shelving Structure standing at 11.4 metres high providing 3,224 bays and 247,000 linear metres of shelving.

The 15 metres high building, of which 90% of the total capacity cube is utilised, also houses a four-level multi-tier walk-on racking structure supporting 600 new tailor-made steel cabinets that will hold over 1.2 million maps and large format items.

With 38 shelf levels from the ground up, the system provides over 690,404 storage tray locations, all items transferred to the site will be individually bar-coded and put into five different sized cardboard trays, double and triple deep, that fit well within the standard 1283mm wide shelf locations.

The ventilation system is designed to push and pull airflow – the design temperature, humidity and air filtration is automatically controlled in order to protect the books from sudden changes in temperature.

Timeline
The new facility has now been completed on time allowing the book move task to start. From November 2010 throughout 2011, 6.5 million books, manuscripts and periodicals will be moved from Oxford to the new site in Swindon.

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